Measures to improve cycle safety in London

The Department for Transport (DfT) has announced a series of measures designed to improve cycle safety in London.

Transport Minister, Stephen Hammond, London Mayor, Boris Johnson, and London’s Transport Commissioner, Sir Peter Hendy CBE, plan to tackle HGV safety in an effort to support London’s cycling revolution.

A series of measures will include:

  • DfT and TfL to establish new Industrial HGV Task Force to take direct action against dangerous HGV drivers, vehicles and operators
  • DfT to review exemptions to current HGV regulations
  • Call for European Union to speed up its review on the design of HGVs to increase drivers’ visibility of vulnerable road users
  • DfT and the Driving Standards Agency issuing a call for evidence about how driver training could change
  • The Mayor is also asking Londoners for their views on whether he should use his powers to levy a substantial “safer lorry charge” on any HGV which is not fitted with basic safety equipment to protect cyclists.

The Department for Transport (DfT) and TfL will strengthen the enforcement of HGV standards by dedicating more Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) and Metropolitan Police officers to this activity in the capital.

Under national legislation, most HGVs, such as supermarket delivery lorries, are required to be fitted with safety equipment such as sidebars or low skirts which protect cyclists and other vulnerable road users from being dragged underneath the vehicle in the event of a collision.

However, a small number of vehicle types – particularly those operating in the construction sector – are exempt from fitting certain safety equipment. The rising number of such vehicles in London’s building boom present a risk to the growing number of cyclists, who now make up almost a quarter of all rush hour traffic in the centre.

Transport Minister Stephen Hammond has also announced that the DfT will review exemptions to current vehicle regulations.

He said: “Today’s announcement of a dedicated Industrial HGV Task Force will target the small minority of large goods vehicle operators who are unaware of, or just wilfully non-compliant with, safety regulations for HGVs and their drivers.” London Mayor Boris Johnson added: “I have long been worried that a large number of cyclist deaths involve a relatively small number of problem lorries which are not fitted with safety equipment. In my Cycling Vision in March, I said that no lorry should be allowed in London unless it is fitted with equipment to protect cyclists. After a lot of work behind the scenes, we have today taken the first steps to make this a reality.”

London Mayor Boris Johnson added: “I have long been worried that a large number of cyclist deaths involve a relatively small number of problem lorries which are not fitted with safety equipment. In my Cycling Vision in March, I said that no lorry should be allowed in London unless it is fitted with equipment to protect cyclists. After a lot of work behind the scenes, we have today taken the first steps to make this a reality.”

Responding to the proposals, the Freight Transport Association’s director of policy Karen Dee said: “FTA views the Mayor’s decision as unprecedented and authoritarian and considers it to be one that will create a mess of confused standards, leaving HGV operators not knowing what they are trying to achieve.
“Improving road safety is a priority for FTA members and many lorry operators already work to the highest standards.  A huge amount of investment has been made by responsible operators who have gone over and above the minimum legal requirements to ensure that safety equipment is fitted to their vehicles. There are better ways of achieving safe roads for all road users.
“We need to see cyclists taking responsibility for their actions, obeying traffic regulations, giving space to HGVs making manoeuvres and generally riding responsibly. Unless you also improve the behaviour of cyclists, the problem will not improve in the way that everyone wants.”

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